Web-savvy shoppers have long known the benefits of shopping online, but it seems their secret is out this holiday season. According to research by Shopper Sciences, a retail marketing firm, 42 percent of shoppers said they will spend time researching products online before making a purchase this holiday season. Additionally, 34 percent of respondents plan to reduce their visits to the store by shopping online for more gifts this year. A large factor in the increase in consumers utilizing online technology will come from increased use of smartphones.
Shopper Sciences’ 2011 Holiday Shopping Survey found that 48 percent of consumers consider their smartphone a vital tool which they plan to use during this holiday season. The company estimates that the use of retail apps that can help consumers compare prices, find coupons and even pay digitally is up 300 percent from last year. The research also found that in the past six months consumers used their smart phones in a variety of ways, including:
- 57 percent used smart phones to look up product information
- 52 percent compared products on mobile devices
- 47 percent searched for coupons on smart phones
- 43 percent scanned a barcode or QR code with their phones
- 39 percent used smart phones to redeem a digital coupon
Consumers are also taking to social media in an attempt to take advantage of holiday deals; 37 percent of respondents now follow brands on Facebook, Google + or Twitter. Of that number, 56 percent of respondents follow brands to get exclusive deals and offers.
"This is shaping up to be a no-holds-barred, digitally empowered shopping season," said John Ross, CEO of Shopper Sciences. "Retailers will need to harness every strategy possible to connect and convert this new-media-savvy shopper who is comfortable using mobile, social and digital means to get the best deal."
For retailers, the opportunity to take advantage of these large increases in mobile and web technologies is significant. Ross said that many retailers are already leaking Black Friday deals early, utilizing flash sales, offering bargains and throwing in free shipping as they look to seize the opportunity presented by mobile devices and online influence this holiday season.
"Americans may be under pressure from the economy, but that doesn't mean they want to endure a disappointing holiday," said Ross. "Shoppers are looking to digital technologies more than ever to help them spend smarter, make their money go farther. The 2011 holiday (season) won’t be easy, but for those retailers and brands willing to share, support and empower shoppers – rather than just sell to them – it has the opportunity to be a bright season."
"It would be easy to look at shopper sentiment and predict a disappointing holiday season," said Ross. "Our data shows an American shopper who is trying to maintain the holiday experience for their families, even with a poor economy."